As we prepared for a week of prayer I witnessed an incident that has stuck in my mind and helped me understand a little more about the wonderful gift of prayer that we have been given.
The streets and pavements around our home have been icy and unsafe for much of the past month. On a particularly frosty day last week I noticed someone who had decided to tackle the slippery, icy ground but I realised that instead of shovelling the ice off of the ground, he was simply scattering handfuls of grit all over the place. Perhaps this would make the path less slippery for now but I knew that by mid morning it would be a sludgy, gritty mess.
As I walked away I felt a thought drop into my head. “What does this teach me about prayer?”
I thought about it and slowly I recognised how much of the time my prayer life mimics the actions of this well meaning and thoughtful neighbour. Take my parenting, I am struggling in this area so what do I do? I try to keep doing everything that I’m already doing and throw a load of prayer into the mix for good measure. Whether it’s on my knees in the quiet or surrounded by madness, I keep chucking out my thoughts about how I would like God to change me or my children. As the pressure increases, more prayers are scattered around me but somehow the mess just gets bigger. If parenting is the ice then my prayers are like the grit, chucked around willy nilly with great intent but not really addressing the deeper problem.
So how do I go deeper, how can I reach for my metaphorical shovel when I am praying about my parenting?
This requires a deeper truth and a deeper surrender. I have to give up my parenting to the One who gave it me to do in the first place. I need to surrender my desire to succeed or do a good job and trust that the One who created my life and the lives of my children has better plans for all of us than I can know or imagine. Instead of being on my knees saying “help me to solve this problem, help me to unlock this heart, help me to survive this day” I need to be placing my entire identity as a mum into God’s hands and saying “Lord, shape me today, please use me for Your glory, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, regardless of how hard I have to work or how many sacrifices I need to make.”
It’s only when I surrender my plans and desires to God that I can receive from Him the truth. He is greater than my successes and failures. I need Him and His salvation more than I need to be a great Mum or have happy children. His approval of me is not based on how well I have performed today but on Christ’s work for me on the cross that paid for my righteousness and adoption into His family.
The instructions that He has given me are clear: to seek first His Kingdom, then He will add the other things. (Matthew 6: 33)
This is not just true for my parenting but for every area of my life and the lives of others that I am praying for. Before I bring God a list of the things I would like Him to do, I need to dig deeper to the rock that can’t be shaken. I need to start every prayer at the foot of the cross, receiving my salvation and security from Jesus afresh before I ask for His beautiful will to be done in me and through me and in the world around me.
How about you? What is the “ice” in your life that you are trying to tackle?
How have you been trying to deal with it? Have you been scattering prayers like grit or have you been digging deeper in surrender and submission to God?
I am praying for you today, that as you place your life into the hands of your creator that you receive from His Spirit a deep peace and joy and a fresh hope in the One who loves you more than you can ever comprehend.